Today's Papers

Veteran’s Day

All the papers lead with Sen. John Kerry’s primetime speech accepting the Democratic Party’s nomination for president at the FleetCenter in Boston. The 55-minute speech combined a biographical narrative mainly focusing on the senator’s decorated Navy stint in Vietnam—14 of his Vietnam crewmates stood on the stage as he entered—and attacks on the credibility and wisdom of the Bush administration in order to make the case that Kerry would be a stronger, smarter commander in chief.

The WP, NYT, LAT, and WSJ all focus on the speech’s (and the night’s) underlying theme of “strength,” running analysis that notes the frequent use of the word throughout and Kerry’s attempt to restore the Democratic Party’s (and, according to him, the U.S.’s) credibility on foreign policy. The WP and WSJ note his challenge to the GOP on the amorphous issue of “family values.” The speech was more strident and direct in its criticisms of the current administration than the previous nights’ big speeches; at one point Kerry pledged, “I will be a commander in chief who will never mislead us into war.” The WP points out that Kerry, while vigilantly supporting force against al-Qaida, barely mentioned Iraq, but the NYT valiantly tries to tease out what his policy would be and its possible implications.

On the domestic front, the speech hit a few protectionist notes, vaguely pledged better healthcare, hyped independence from foreign oil and “the Saudi Royal Family,” promised a roll back of tax cuts intended for people with incomes over $200,000, and strongly supported stem cell research. The WSJ sharplyscrutinizes the math of Kerry’s economic plan and the feasibility of his energy claims. Everyone picks up on Kerry’s attempts to convey optimistic message and allusions to other presidential speeches, especially his promise to “restore truth and credibility” to the presidential office, a spin-off of President Bush’s campaign pledge—and coded attack on Clinton—in 2000 to restore “honor and dignity” to the White House. (Click here for the speech’s full text, and go here and here for Slate’s on-location response.)

Along with the last day of convention scuttlebutt, the papers focus on the day-after for the Kerry campaign. The WP looks at how the DNC is using loopholes to fund ad campaigns officially “independent” of the nominee, while the WSJ has a surprisingly interesting take on Kerry’s attempts to lock up different kinds of swing voters. Among other things, the campaign is trying to take advantage of early-voting laws and absentee ballots in order to get the votes of “blue-collar workers who work inflexible shifts.”

At the behest of the United Nations, the interim Iraqi government canceled plans for a national conference that was scheduled for later this week. The conference, which was to select a 100-member interim legislature, had been plagued by difficulties in delegate selection and the refusal of some major organizations—such as Moqtada al-Sadr’s followers—to join. The cancellation occurs during a surprise visit by Colin Powell and an epidemic of kidnapping in the country; about 20 abductions have occurred in the past week, and two kidnapped Pakistanis were recently executed, leading Pakistanis in the American-controlled Green Zone to strike.

Both the WP and LAT report that a comprehensive examination by the now-defunct Coalition Provisional Authority’s inspector general into the management of funds by contractors in Iraq has led to 27 criminal investigations into cases of fraud and cronyism involving security contracts.

A major suspect in the 1998 al-Qaida bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa was arrested last Sunday morning by Pakistani forces. The NYT said it “appears to be the first high-level arrest resulting from military operations that Pakistan began in the North-West Frontier Province five months ago.” The LAT notes that the U.S. military did not have troops on the ground, but did provide some intelligence assistance. The Bush administration rejected theories that the announcement of the arrest was deliberately timed to coincide with the Democratic convention.

The first of about 12 congressional hearings on the intelligence reorganization proposed by the 9/11 commission begin today, and the WP reports that the Bush administration is currently focusing on things that can be done in the short-term to fix problems that wouldn’t require a massive overhaul. President Bush, possibly as early as next week, will issue a series of executive orders outlining his plans for intelligence reform. David Ignatius has a smart op-ed in the WP encouraging debate and reminding readers that knee-jerk acceptance of the reforms may not be productive.

Only the WP has a piece reporting that four Guantanamo detainees will appear before a U.S. military judge next month for a hearing that will likely kick off a military tribunal. Unfortunately, the article doesn’t say anything about whether the hearing was previously planned or in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decisions.

In the WSJ, a Page One story on the Securities and Exchange Commission explores its new role as global corporate watchdog, investigating foreign companies that have presences in the U.S. but are based in countries with weak regulatory authority. The article attributes this new internationalism to integration of financial markets, a broader mandate in the post-Enron era, and global cooperation during the investigations into possible insider trading by the 9/11 attackers. The piece, at one point detailing how the agency deftly handled the French legal system, doesn’t fully explain the legal reasoning that allows them to cross borders.

Meetings between Iran and three European countries over Iran’s nuclear program were apparently unproductive, as the Islamic republic refused not only to let inspectors in but also to stop boosting its capability. Colin Powell insisted, contrary to Iranian claims, that he believed the country is trying to develop nuclear weapons, and that the matter may soon have to be brought to the U.N. Security Council. It was unclear what measures the U.S. would recommend.

The scientist Francis Crick, who co-discovered the structure of DNA with James Watson in 1953, died yesterday of colon cancer. He was 88.